Puppy! Just the name sounds cute and cuddly. Almost everyone loves the idea of holding and playing with a new pup, and most new owners can’t wait to integrate their precious pet into their household. But, as many find out the hard way, a puppy can be quite a handful. Sure, they’re cute as can be, but they can also be willful, mischievous, and downright destructive.
One of the best ways to avoid the frustrations of new puppy ownership, and one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your new pet is to crate train him. Crate training takes some discipline, but it’s well worth the time and effort in the long run. It is probably the best way to potty train your puppy, and it will come in handy in situations like transporting your pet.
First, get your puppy an appropriate crate. There are plastic and metal dog crates available in different sizes. Choose the best size for the puppy, one that is large enough for him to stand and turn around in. Don’t get one that is so large that your puppy can just go to one end of the crate and go potty. You want the dog to view this as his new home or den. Dogs will avoid soiling their own dens. If you get a large crate in anticipation of your puppy growing, just block off the back part of the crate. Remember to put a soft towel or blanket in the crate.
Encourage your pup to go into the crate with a treat and/or toy. An interesting toy, such a Kong filled with peanut butter will keep your dog engaged and happy in the crate. Leave the door open and praise her when she goes inside and stays there. Don’t force the pup into the crate. Remember, this new home is supposed to be a pleasant place for them, not a punishment. You can even feed the puppy in the crate to create a positive association for her.
When the animal is comfortable being in the crate, close the door and leave it closed for progressively longer periods of time. Begin leaving the puppy alone in the closed crate and gradually lengthen the time you are away from the crate.
If your puppy whines, don’t immediately comfort her and let her out. That just teaches them that if they whine, they get what they want. Ignore the whining. (I know it’s hard!) Let your puppy out only when she is quiet and calm. A well-exercised puppy will probably make it easier to crate train. A tired puppy means a quieter, calmer puppy that will more than likely just curl up and nap in the crate.
When you do let him out, don’t make a big deal out of it. You don’t want puppy to think that being outside of the crate is the better, happier situation.
One of the biggest challenges with a puppy is potty training. Crate training makes this task much easier to handle. Young pups need to eliminate every 2 to 4 hours. Let your puppy out of the crate and outside to go potty on a regular schedule, like first thing in the morning, after meals, and before bedtime. This teaches the pup a routine that will last throughout his life.
When letting the pup out of the crate to eliminate, put her on a leash and go immediately to the potty area. Give her 5 to 10 minutes to do her business. If she doesn’t go, put her back into the crate. If she goes, praise her, give her treats, and play with her. You can even let her play in the house freely for a time, with your supervision of course.
Keep your puppy crated during the night. You will probably have to let them out in the middle of the night for a potty break, but that hardship won’t last too long. Puppies grow fast and soon he will be able to hold it for longer periods of time.
As for leaving your puppy in the crate when you leave the house, remember that young dogs need to eliminate every few hours, so arrange to come home, have a neighbor check in, or hire a pet sitter to make sure your puppy is taken care of.
Remember, the effort you put into crate training contributes to a positive experience in dog ownership for you, as well as to the overall happiness of your pet.